TNA debuted on essentially nationwide television this past Friday in the United States. TNA Impact had its first taping on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., for airing the next day on Fox Sports Net. This certainly marks a turning point for the company, as they have achieved the "holy grail" that everyone has been talking about forever. What they are able to do with it will be something to be determined in coming weeks.
It seems that the question everyone is asking is how this will "impact" the future of TNA as a wrestling company. There have been two schools of thought, one, being that this will expose casual fans to the hot product, prompting them to buy more pay per views, open up the door for more licensing deals, advertising revenue, and eventually lead to running road shows.
The other school of thought is that the time slot (Fridays at 2 p.m.) is not the best and that the costs of buying the hour coupled with the hard sell of wrestling to potential advertisers will make this a money pit for TNA and Panda Energy. Amidst all of this there are comparisons to ECW.
First let me deal with the comparison. There isn't one. The two companies evolved completely differently and the business is as different as it could be compared to 1993 when ECW started up. In some ways (financial backing) TNA is in a stronger position initially, but in literally every other category, ECW had an advantage. Not based on talent or management, but on the environment at the time.
In 1993 the business had become very bland with boring matches on TV and a laid-back in-ring style. Enter ECW which incorporated the mayhem of the FMW (Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling) with the MTV culture prevalent at the time in the media. Throw in a dose of Paul Heyman's fertile mind and an identified gap in the industry for this type of product and you had a cult sensation.
I have spoken often on the subject of emotional connection where it concerns the marketing of talent to the audience and how hard that is to get and almost impossible to create: it just happens. What you do with it is another question. Well, ECW as a company had the emotional connection.
Unfortunately, circumstances were not on its side and in 2001 the business imploded.
Flash to 2004 and TNA is a vastly different entity than ECW. First, you have the legendary Jerry Jarrett keeping a handle on expenses and overseeing the operation. You have Jeff Jarrett running the day to day operations and Dixie Carter's marketing mind pushing the product. Throw in a great dressing room of talent and booking creativity that springs from folks like Dutch Mantel, Vince Russo and Glenn Gilberti and you have the makings of a breakthrough company.
However, just as was the case with ECW in 2001, the environment is something you as a company cannot control and as such, you need to be constantly changing and evolving your product to survive in the industry. Being lean, adaptable and ready to fill a niche will be what takes TNA to the next level.
In one of those moments of being on the wrong side of an issue with absolutely no defence, long-time WWE employee Bruce Prichard has apparently been advocating doing away with the cruiserweight division.